Parents of New York High School Football Player File Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The parents of a Staten Island high school football player who died of a heart attack after collapsing at a pre-season workout in September 2014 recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of New York, the Department of Education, the Fire Department, and the Emergency Medical Services Bureau.

According to reports, the 6 foot 2 inch, 295 pound player collapsed after doing wind sprints when the temperature was 78 degrees with 75 percent humidity. The heart attack was reportedly caused by a genetic heart disorder. The player had passed a physical in July and was cleared to play. The parents reportedly did not know he had any preexisting condition.

The parents allege that the defendants failed to provide adequate emergency care. The Department of Education allegedly failed to have a defibrillator immediately available and failed to have at the workout individuals who were qualified to use a defibrillator and perform CPR.  The ambulance crew was allegedly unauthorized to perform the needed life-saving techniques.

The Public School Athletic League (PSAL) requires that exercising stop if the temperature reaches 85 degrees and humidity reaches 80 percent. If humidity is between 50 and 80 percent, the PSAL requires that extreme caution must be exercised. New York law requires that school districts provide on-site in each school facility adequate automated external defibrillator (AED) equipment to ensure ready and appropriate access for use during emergencies. During school-sponsored activities, school officials and administrators shall ensure the presence of at least one staff person who is trained in the operation and use of an AED.

This case may present many factual issues, including whether there was AED equipment on-site, whether it was readily accessible, whether there were trained personnel present at the workout, whether there was any delay in treatment, and whether the player’s life could have been saved regardless of the nature and extent of treatment provided.  There is presently no timeline for the discovery phase of the lawsuit.

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